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Sun Devil Squad Setting New Standards
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 06/21/1999
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November 20, 1998

Monday, Nov. 23 - NCAA Championships
Rim Rock Farm; Lawrence, Kan.
9:30 a.m. (MST): Women's Division I Championships - 5K

This Week: For the first time in school history, Arizona State will participate as a team in the NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country Championships, Monday, Nov. 23 at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan. The Sun Devils received one of 13 at-large bids to the national championship meet after finishing sixth at the NCAA West Regionals. The Sun Devils had finished fourth at the Pac-10 Championships.

Sun Devils Ranked: For the first time in Arizona State history, the women's cross country squad was ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation this season. ASU bolted into the FinishLynx Top 25 at number 15 after its sixth-place finish at the Bob Timmons Invitational in Lawrence, Kan. ASU remained in the poll until this week, climbing as high as 14th after the Pac-10 Championships.

The Field: Brigham Young is the favorite to repeat as NCAA champions as the Cougars are ranked first in the latest FinishLynx Top 25. The Cougars edged Stanford by two points to win the 1997 national title. Six Pac-10 teams will participate - ASU, No. 3 Arizona, No. 6 Stanford, No. 11 Washington, No. 16 Oregon and UCLA. Add Northern Arizona to the mix, and all three Division I schools in the state of Arizona will participate.

Regional Championships: The Pac-10 dominated the West Regional as the top six and nine of the top 11 schools were from the Conference of Champions. ASU placed sixth in the region, its best finish at regionals since 1986, when the Sun Devils also finished sixth. Priscilla Hein's 13th-place individual finish was the best by a Sun Devil woman since 1988. After finishing third at the Pac-10 meet, Arizona leapfrogged Stanford and Washington to capture the regional championship, edging the Cardinal by two points.

Pac-10 Championships: ASU's fourth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships Oct. 31 in Eugene, Ore., matched the best showing in Sun Devil history. ASU also finished fourth in 1987. Priscilla Hein became the second Sun Devil in history to earn Pac-10 all conference honors with her sixth-place finish to lead ASU's women. It was the second-best finish at the Pac-10 meet in ASU history, as only Teresa Barrios' fourth-place showing in 1988 outclassed Hein in the Sun Devil record books. Stanford captured the league title with Washington finishing second and Arizona third.

Earning Resect: Arizona State earned the respect of the national cross country community with a solid showing Oct. 10 at the Bill Timmons Invitational at Rim Rock Farm, the site of the 1998 NCAA Cross Country Championships. ASU's women finished sixth in a field of 32 teams that included nine ranked squads. The Sun Devils defeated No. 9 Colorado, No. 15 Oregon, No. 17 Minnesota and No. 21 South Florida. Here's a look at the times and finishes posted by ASU runners on the Rim Rock Course: Aguilera, 18:38, 49th; Hein, 17:53, 17th; MacDonald, 18:34, 44th; Maciasek, 19:01, 87th; McFerron, 19:06, 94th; Simmons, 20:10, 206th; Sohn, 18:37, 47th.

Head Coach Walt Drenth: Veteran distance coach Walt Drenth, in his third year as Head Cross Country Coach at Arizona State University, has taken the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. ASU's appearance at the 1998 NCAA Championships is the first in school history after the Sun Devil women matched their best-ever finish at the Pac-10 meet (4th) and recorded their best regional finish (sixth) since 1986. ASU's men, running with five freshmen and two sophomores, registered their best season of the decade as the Sun Devils finished fourth at the Pac-10s (best men's finish ever) and eighth at regionals (best finish since 1986). Drenth came to Tempe after spending the previous six years (1990-95) at the College of William & Mary where he led the Tribe to five Colonial Athletic Association cross country titles and one District II crown in 1990. He was named the CAA Cross Country Coach of the Year on five occasions and also tabbed as District II Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1995. While at William & Mary, Drenth led his harriers to three top 20 NCAA finishes (15th-1990, 18th-1994, 17th-1995). Prior to his stint at William & Mary, Drenth was the head cross country coach at his alma mater, Central Michigan, from 1985-90. During his stint at Central Michigan, he was named District IV Coach of the Year in 1989 after leading CMU to the District IV title. He led the Chippewas to two Mid-American Conference titles and named MAC Coach of the Year in both of those seasons, 1988 & 1989.

Youthful Exuberance: Arizona State's cross country roster is littered with freshmen and sophomores and it is those freshmen and sophomores who, for the most part, are leading ASU cross country to new heights. Of the seven Sun Devils who will run at the NCAA Championships, three are freshmen, three are sophomores and one is a senior.

Priscilla Hein - The Veteran: Senior Priscilla Hein (Prescott, Ariz.) is the only upperclassmen for ASU's men or women who has run in more than one race this season. More than that, Hein is the undisputed leader of ASU's women's squad, having led the Sun Devil women in all six races she has competed in, including a sixth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships, the second-best ASU finish ever at the Pac-10s, and a 13th-place showing at the NCAA West Regionals, the best at ASU since 1988. Hein redshirted last season after leading ASU in 1996, when she finished 25th at the Pac-10 meet and 22nd at Regionals, the highest finish by a Sun Devil at regionals in four years. 1996 was Hein's first year at Arizona State after she was a two-time junior college All-American at Yavapai JC, whom she led to the 1994 NJCAA national title.

Nationals History: 1998 is the first time that an Arizona State cross country squad, men or women, has advanced to nationals as a team. Only eight individuals (four men, four women) have advanced to the NCAA Championships in ASU history. The last Sun Devil to compete at nationals was Todd Lewis in 1991 and the last woman to advance was Teresa Barrios in 1988. Here's a look at the eight individual performances:

WOMEN                             MEN
Teresa Barrios, 1988, 51st        Todd Lewis, 1991, 11th
Laura LaMena, 1987, 62nd          Mike Stahr, 1984, 101st
Lynn Nelson, 1983, 61st           Mike Elder, 1974, 145th
Sabrina Peters, 1982, 45th        Larry Lawson, 1974, 16th
Sabrina Peters, 1980, 44th

Bites: Arizona State's best women's runner from 1997, Mary Duerbeck, is redshirting this year after surgery on her left foot (navicular).

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